In the Bible God gives us three metaphors to explain to us how to find fulfillment in this life: God says: If you want to find fulfillment in this life, then be like:
1. A member of a family
Ephesians 2:19 says, “You are members of God’s family.” For a family to work well, each member of the family must play a role, right? In my family I protect and provide. Kristin nurtures and guides. The kids roles are to deprive us of sleep, interrupt marital intimacy, eat all our food and ask when driving “Are we there yet?” Just kidding! 🙂 Their role is to help out where they can. My kids take out the trash, do the laundry, clean up after dinner and help with their little brother. And we all find deep fulfillment in playing our respective roles. I love protecting and providing for my family. Kristin loves raising and teaching our children. And when I thank the kids for all their help they glow. We all find it very fulfilling playing a helpful role in our family. This is how it works in life too. You will find fulfillment when you live out the role God has for you within His family.
Secondly, God says: If you want to find fulfillment in this life, then be like:
2. A sheep in a flock
In John 10 Jesus says that he is the good shepherd and that we are the flock of his pasture. Like a member of a family, a sheep makes a valuable contribution – a sheep contributes its wool. In John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address he instructed America “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” He was saying: Don’t be a consumer. Be a contributor. He went on to say “Ask not what America will do for you but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” He was saying: We are blessed to be a blessing. We’re a great nation and that means we have a great responsibility to help others. This is what God is saying about fulfillment: You’ll never find fulfillment being a consumer. You’ve got to become a contributor. God is saying: I’ve saved you and this brings a certain level of responsibility to help others find the same salvation you have found. God hasn’t saved us for a life of privilege, rather a life of responsibility. We find fulfillment when we become responsible (in some way) to help others find salvation and the life of fulfillment through Christ.
Thirdly, God says: If you want to find fulfillment in this life, then be like:
3. A part of a body
1 Corinthians 12:12, “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.” In a human body there are many different parts: hands, feet, arms legs, etc. Each is different but they all have this in common: Each performs a useful function. I remember in high school I nearly broke my thumb playing basketball. It was out of commission for a couple weeks. I was shocked to learn all the useful things my thumb did. When I hurt it I thought: No big deal – my thumb doesn’t do much. Boy was I wrong! I discovered that my thumb performs countless useful functions (if you don’t believe me try turning a door knob today without using your thumb!) In the same way that each part of the body performs a useful function, God says “So it is with the body of Christ.” In other words: So SHOULD it be with the body of Christ. Friends – we are the body of Christ – and each one of us should perform a useful function.
Fulfillment is found when you’re playing a role (like a member of a family), when you’re contributing something of value (like a sheep in a flock) and when you’re performing a useful function (like a part of a body). Our American culture is very selfish and unfortunately the consumer attitude of our culture has slipped into the culture of the church. But look at the attitude Christ had. Philippians 2:5-7, Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who…made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…” I for one am so glad Jesus didn’t have a consumer attitude, rather a contributor attitude. If Jesus were like many of us, we’d all be dead in our sins and hell-bound. But since Jesus decided to play a role (like a member of a family), make a contribution (like a sheep in a flock) and perform a useful function (like a part of a body) – we who have trusted Jesus to forgive our sins are heaven-bound.